Catholic principal accused of professional misconduct after denying gay-straight alliance
MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, January 31, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A now-retired Catholic principal from Mississauga is facing a complaint to the Ontario College of Teachers after she denied students’ requests for a gay-straight alliance last year.
Former Ottawa teacher Thomas McCue, who now lives with his male partner in Montreal, alleges Frances Jacques, the former principal of St. Joseph Catholic High School, committed professional misconduct when she refused to allow Leanne Iskander and other teens to form the controversial club, according to the Toronto Star.
The principal’s refusal made national news last March as part of a campaign by activists to force Ontario’s Catholic schools to accept GSAs.
McCue lodged the complaint in November alleging that Jacques’ “actions or inactions” risked putting “certain groups at increased risk, which is contrary to the code of conduct of members.”
He told the Star that as he read reports of the incident last year, it “all seemed unreal to me.” “I kind of felt sick to my stomach,” he said.
The Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board said at the time that Jacques had offered Iskander’s group numerous options that were in line with the Catholic faith, but she refused.
They noted in particular that Jacques had suggested Iskander connect with the Courage apostolate, a Catholic organization supported by the Archdiocese of Toronto that offers a spiritual support system to men and women struggling with same-sex attractions. She also advised Iskander that students experiencing same-sex attractions could have discussions with the school’s chaplain and social worker or connect with existing equity groups at the school.
With the aid of groups such as Egale, Xtra, and Queer Ontario, Iskander formed her own lobby group ‘Catholic Students for GSAs’. She was given Pride Toronto’s ‘LGBTQ Youth of the Year ‘ award and named a “grand marshal” for the 2011 Gay Pride parade.
The Ontario College of Teachers, which oversees the certification of teachers, has the power to revoke a teacher’s certificate if he or she is found guilty of professional misconduct. Lesser penalties include a reprimand, suspension, or fine.
Retired teachers can still face penalties, including revocation of their teaching certificate, which would mean they could not return to the classroom.
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College spokesman Brian Jamieson told LifeSiteNews that findings of professional misconduct are rare, with only 8 cases in 2010, 7 of which involved sexual impropriety.
He said that Ontario law bars the College from commenting on disciplinary matters until they reach a hearing, noting that he could not even confirm that the complaint has been lodged.
News of the complaint comes at the same time as a possible showdown looms between the Catholic schools and the Ontario government. While the government has put forward legislation forcing schools to allow single-issue “anti-homophobia” clubs, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association announced this week that they will promote broader anti-bullying clubs instead, and that the clubs will be required to adhere to Church teaching on homosexuality.